Tips for speakers with subsequent translation (consecutive interpreting)

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In consecutive interpreting, the translation takes place with a time lag. The interpreter takes notes during the original talk and translates the contents of the speech at the end. This makes it easier for listeners to understand the translated content or complex relationships presented in a foreign language. This form of translation is often used for speeches to give listeners the opportunity to hear the original version themselves, even if they do not speak the foreign language perfectly. The interpreter will then ensure comprehensive understanding with a summarised translation. This requires the interpreter’s work to be particularly precise, because the time-shifted interpreting significantly prolongs the lecture time. The audience should not be overloaded with a wealth of non-relevant statements or numerous repetitions.


Speakers who want to work with a consecutive interpreter can make the interpreter's job easier by following a few tips.

Tip 1: Documents for the interpreter

If a pre-written speech or a list of bullet points is available, this will enable the interpreter to prepare optimally for their work. This increases the quality and quantity of consecutive interpreting, as the translator will have already had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the topic in advance.

Tip 2: Speak freely or read slowly

Speaking freely is ideal for lectures, readings, or recitals, because speakers will automatically give the right emphasis to the speech, making it easier for the audience to follow. If the speech is to be read out, reading slowly and with emphasis is an advantage for listeners and the interpreter.

Tip 3: Abbreviations and proper names

Proper names and numbers are usually very familiar to the speaker, but they are not necessarily known to the audience. Pronouncing these slowly and clearly makes it easier for the interpreter and the listeners to grasp the meaning of what has been said. Abbreviations or subject-specific terms should be briefly explained if the audience does not consist entirely of experts in the field.

Tip 4: Jokes are difficult to translate

Jokes and sayings can make a speech less monotonous. But if the speech is going to be interpreted afterwards, experts advise against using them. Jokes are usually lost in translation and are unnecessarily confusing for listeners.


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